Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Old Bay Potato Salad and 10 Favorites for Labor Day


Labor Day is fast approaching and I am already dreading the last days of summer. I realize it's not over yet, but somehow it always seemed to be that as fast as the kids began school, summer was swiftly ending. I will miss the dinners on the deck, the balmy evenings where no one wants to go to bed, and even watering my flower boxes. It is hard to say if I will miss those things more than I will miss the fresh summer food and the aroma of grilling. (Truth be told; we tend to use our grill year round.)

Labor Day always meant spending the day at the pool and of course, it always seemed to be the best, most perfect day of summer. It meant we closed the place down and sadly waved good bye. It meant burgers and hot dogs and watermelon. And corn. Have to get the last of the fresh sweet corn. It meant clearing out the club's freezers and standing in line to get the free frozen treats being given away. We always sent our kids up to get us one!


Labor Day means saying goodbye to summer's bounty. I love picking fresh herbs from my herb garden. I love farmer's markets. I love choosing fresh peppers and peaches and watermelon. Let's not forget berries. I love grilling chicken. I love cocktails and wine coolers and beer. I love fruit desserts and ice cream sandwiches and milk shakes. Not that I have many of those!

Labor Day reminds me of all the recipes I still want to make. It still seems like I have so many more salads I want to concoct, and things I want to grill, and jams I want to make. But that's what it's all about, isn't it? The ending of summer means yearning for the next one. The change of seasons gives us time to peruse garden catalogues to make next year's bigger and better. It has us slowing down and awaiting warm vacations elsewhere. And it has me still cooking!

Here's a new potato salad that I really enjoy. And some of my favorites that you may want to try for the last big bash of summer. But don't labor to much.. Enjoy!


Old Bay Potato Salad
Serves 4-6
Time To Make: About 15 minutes

Ingredients:
3 medium Russets cooked (I wrap them in damp paper towels and microwave them for about 6-7 minutes)
1/3 c mayonnaise
1/3 c sour cream
1 T spicy mustard
2 T Old Bay
1 t horseradish
1/3 c sliced olives
1/3 c chopped yellow peppers or your choice
13 c chopped green onion
1 T capers and juice
1/3 c celery chopped (optional)

Directions:
When potatoes have cooled, cut them into bite sized chunks. While potatoes are cooking combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix well. Add potatoes and stir well. I like this best at room temperature, but chill if you'd like!

And a few more faves: The chicken is killer!

The Gardener Cocktail


White Beans and Red Peppers


Red Onion, Blueberry and Pesto Tart



Calabacitas Tomato Sandwich



Old Fashioned Barbeque Chicken



Elote Corn in a Bowl



Fennel Cabbage Salad



Green Onion Garlic Chive Skillet Bread (These photos are just to bad to show you, but the recipe is great!)

Triple Berry Handpies


Black Bottom Chocolate Cake or Cupcakes


And don't forget to enter the Whole Foods Giveaway!






Sunday, August 23, 2015

Blueberry Pancakes on the Day of your Birthday

"Blueberry Pancakes are perfect for breakfast and brinner. And if you want to skip ahead, scroll down to the recipe because this is a long post!"


No one told me that you would ever be 25. No one told me that each year on August 24th, I would continue to have labor pains as I do every day, even though I never did; thanks to a C-section. (What a long sentence.). No one told me how each year could pass and I would continue to be awestruck at your beauty and grace. (Yes, you too Alex.) No one told me that as time passes I seem to miss you more and more. Yes, I know I was supposed to give you wings; and I was supposed to give you roots, so you could grow. I did. You did.





No one told me that I would be in awe when I first gazed at you. No one told me that I would finally understand the precious gift of life until I felt you and held you and yes-gazed at you. I couldn't take my eyes off of you. I was afraid to touch you for fear I might break that magic spell called love. From that day on, you were always with me. Even now when you both live on separate continents, I feel your pain. Your gain. Your love. I would jump oceans to protect you. To love you. To wipe your tears and share your joys.

No one told me that you would ever be 25 and that I would get older. Just like no one told me to give away your baby clothes. I didn't. They are still buried in the crawl space, hopefully in memorable condition. No one told me that I would remember the pink and white velour sleeper or the watermelon outfit or the red cowboy dress that you adored, Zoe. Or that zebra leggings and leopard shoes seem to suit you and still do. And your nikky; your precious little blankie that Grandma crocheted for you. Should we tell her that you still sleep with it and have a little box that holds all the yarn that falls off of it?


No one told me Alex, that cute boys clothes were so hard to find, but I did. And no one told me that I'd never forget how much my boy loved his sweaters. That even on the hottest day in the summer, you would wear your sweater and not want to take it off; because it was so soft, Mom. And now today you probably don't even own a sweater, but you do have a blue and purple checked shirt, because purple is your favorite color.

No one told me that my  crawl space would fill with countless children's books and stuffed animals. And yes, Beanie babies. I don't think you will ever get rich off of those. I saved your cowboy sheets Alex, because I know they will come back into vogue and they were so cute and hard to find. No one told me Zoe,  that I would adore your bedroom more than my own, and that I can't bear to dismantle it. I love it so much. No one told me how when I'm upset I'd crawl onto your bed and comfort myself with the stuffed animals that are still left on it and feel at peace with a tree branch over my head and flowers on my back.

No one told me that my boy would ask for a world for his 5th birthday. No one told me  how to get him a world. I figured the  the best I could do would be to show it to him, which was all right with me. Then I  found out that all he wanted was a globe and that made it  much easier. It is still downstairs on his desk, but oh boy, did he discover the world. No one told me that he would be living in Shanghai and how I blame Manservant for that. And no one told me that my daughter would stay in Philly after college and become an economist. No one told me, but I know one day they will both come home. Yes, wings fly in both directions and know no boundaries.


No one told me that I would love the noise of children and miss the noise of teenagers and that I would thrive on the chaos and the clamor that a good family has. No one told me that I would miss the driving, the sports, the snow days, school and sick days and the summer. Those vacation days of swimming  and tennis and staying out late playing neighborhood games. The bike rides, the library, and camp. I've never seen such filthy clothes that came home. No one told me to throw them away, but I did.

No one told me that each year on your birthday I used to dread giving two birthday parties. It was work, but worth it. I think it wasn't the party I didn't like, it was all the gifts. I never knew what to do with them all. No one told me that I would ever bake two cakes, but I did. You always chose chocolate cake and Ilse's cake and every now and then we'd get an ice cream cake. No one told me that it would be a pain having your birthday right when school started. No one told me how much I'd miss having family around to celebrate it with. But we made our own family and now you have both.

No one told me that I'd love making your favorite foods for your birthday feast and how it would be fun to see each year what you would come up with. I think it evolved from spaghetti to linguini with clam sauce to finally a big grilled steak.  No one told me how fun it was celebrating with you at new restaurants and how even as toddlers, people always exclaimed how good you were. I think it goes back to the fact that it was hard to take two babies anywhere, so when we did you were a bit like Geordie. Tugging at the leash, so to speak, and just happy to be out of the house.


No one told me that I would love taking vacations with you. Yes, it took a lot of planning but I loved seeing the world through your eyes. Your eyes made everything look sunnier even when you used to get motion sickness from flying or driving. Yes, Alex. remember Independence Pass? And Zoe, I'm not sure that the LAX international terminal floor will ever be the same.

No one told me that having children could be so easy and so hard at the same time. No one told me that at 25 you can be so smart, but not yet wise. No one told me that you can have the world in your palm and not know it.  No one told me that you'd end up a little bit like me and a little bit like Dad. No one told me that. But I'm sure you got most of the good things from me. No one told me you'd end up blonde and blue eyed Zoe, and that Alex would have an incredible smile and green eyes and more body hair than King Kong.


No one told me how much you'd fight in high school and how I yearn for the day that you feel close together again. Maybe you do and I don't know it, but it is hard to feel close when we are all so far apart. No one told me how important it is to remain close to family. No one told me that I'd be constantly reminding you that when I'm dead and gone, that all you will have is each other as family. So treat each other accordingly. Please.

No one told me that every time you leave I'd get a big lump in my throat and wonder when the next time I see you will be. No one told me that I'd get a big lump in my throat when you first arrive.No one told me that when the nights start getting cooler and the crickets start chirping, that it will soon be your birthday. And no one told me that on the day of your B'nai Mitzvah we would be having monsoon weather.

No one told me that you would be 25 and I would be older. No one told me that I would miss you. No one told me how each day I am proud to say you are my children. No one told me I'd have two perfect kids on the same day. No one told me how fast time flies. No one told me how gorgeous you would become inside and out. No one told me not to take each day for granted, but the truth is I never did. Each day with you has been a gift and sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve you both.


So today, on your 25th birthday, I wish you all the joy and love that a mother can wish for her children. I also wish that you have the strength to make it through the hard times, but I know you do, And one day I hope you experience the miracle of having two incredible kids in your life. Though not necessarily at the same time. And you could always have more.



 No one told me what a journey life would be and that I'd never have to leave home to experience it. No one told me that it would be so hard to give you wings and watch you fly. And no one told me how to give you roots, but I think we did.  No one told me that today we'd each be in 4 separate places but that we would think of each other in our own way. No one told me, but yes I believe those roots continue to hold us all in their grasp. They twist and they turn; they branch off in different directions, and grow thick with gnarly age, but they are there and for that I am grateful.

Happy Birthday my children.

No chocolate cake or Ilse's cake today. But these are some pretty good blueberry pancakes!


Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes (The Best!)
Serves 4-6 Makes about 12 pancakes
Time to Make: About 10 minutes to mix and 15 to cook
From: PopSugar (These really are the best!)

Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 c buttermilk
1/2 c melted butter (cooled)
2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1-2 c fresh rinsed blueberries

Directions:
Whisk eggs in a large bowl.  Then add buttermilk and cooled butter and whisk some more. Mix dry ingredients together and add to buttermilk mixture, mixing gently until just combined. There will still be lumps. Stir in blueberries.

In a large skillet melt about 1/2 t of butter over medium heat. Then add about 1/2 cup of batter and cook until bubbles form and pop. They are now ready to flip. Cook on the other side approximately another two minutes. Mine usually cook a bit faster. Keep pancakes in a warm oven set to about 200. Tent  with foil so they don't dry out. Serve with butter and maple syrup and maybe some candles!


More of Alex and Zoe and some good food:
Green Chile Poached Eggs with Bacon
Shakshuka in Purgatory
Chocolate Lava Cake
Lemon Thyme Biscotti Crackers
Cookie Dough Cupcakes

And don't forget to enter the Whole Foods $25 Giveaway!





Thursday, August 20, 2015

Peach, Green Chile and Sage Salsa Cheese Bites


For lack of a better name (maybe we should have a contest to name these?) I am calling these bites. After all, a bite is one tasty morsel, which is what these are. Summer will soon be coming to an end and it's time to get my fill of peaches. Green chilies will hang around a bit, but even those will soon disappear. My personal mission (if I chose to accept it) was to combine my all time favorites in one luscious treat. I sweated and slaved and made countless trips to Whole Foods, but really I didn't. It isn't hard to come up with a great nibble when using these ingredients. Plus, I needed a quick appetizer and this is what I had. I love going to the grocery, but not every day!

Whole Foods is starting to fill with all the end of summer produce. Here in Colorado we have Palisade peaches that are not to be missed. I really must buy some and freeze them! They are so much fun to pull out in the winter and bake a peach pie with. Additionally it is chile time, one of the most sure ways to know that fall is approaching. Just the aroma of chilies in a roaster is enough to make my mouth water. Whole Foods always has some freshly roasted. Speaking of which, I still have some in my freezer from last year, when I bought a bushel over on Federal. Guess hubby will be coming home to green chile. They don't have that in Sweden!


Happy hour last Friday found us with friends stopping over. This was the perfect time to throw some of my faves together for some fun nibbles. Enjoy!

Just a few notes: Green chilies can be spicy. Choose the mild ones for this or you won't taste the peaches. Remember, some peaches can be sweeter than others. Adjust ingredients as needed. You may want a little more honey or a little more cinnamon.  Have these with a margarita or a beer or a very fruity glass of wine. Champagne or Prosecco would also work!  But more importantly, just have them!

Whole Foods is giving away 1 $25 gift card to help fill your basket. This post is sponsored by Whole Foods but all opinions expressed are mine. Open only to US residents. No compensation has been given but products have been provided. Giveaway closes on August 31, 2015Subscribe if you don't want to miss the announcement of the winner in August to see if you won! Winner will be chosen by a Random Number Generator! 

How to Enter:

· Enter once by leaving me a comment and telling me your favorite summer dish.
· Enter twice by subscribing to This is How I Cook
· Enter again by following me on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. 



Peach, Green Chile and Sage Salsa Cheese Bites
Makes 12 wonton cups with salsa to spare
Time to make: About 15 minutes

Ingredients:
12 wonton wrappers (I always make more because it is easy to keep these in the freezer.)
2 peaches, diced
2 roasted and seeded green chiles or a few tablespoons to taste from the can
3 fresh sage leaves finely chopped or a pinch of dried
1/4 c finely chopped red onion
2-3 t honey plus more for a drizzle on top (This depends on how hot your chiles are. You may need more or less.)
Pinch of salt
1/4 t approximately of cinnamon (This really does not have a strong taste in the salsa, but it adds dimension and brings the flavor of the peaches forward. You may even want a dash more.)
1/4 to 1/2 t ancho chile powder for depth (but this is up to your taste buds!)
Squeeze of lime (optional)
Goat Cheese with honey (about 3 oz)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a mini muffin pan with baking spray. Line each cup with a wonton wrapper. Push into place to form a nice little cup. Spray those with baking spray. You can even season these with a pinch of chile powder if you'd like. Bake about 10 minutes or until they turn gold. Let cool.

Combine peaches, chiles, sage, onion, honey, salt, cinnamon and ancho chile powder. You may want a little lime juice but this depends on the heat of your chilies. Set aside until ready.

Form the cheese into small balls that will fit in the wonton cup. Top with a spoonful of salsa and drizzle with honey for serving. I garnished mine with a tiny chive flower because right now I have chives flowering!

And if you have sage and chives in your herb garden, they happen to make a nice little bouquet. Just sayin'.


Whole Foods has lots of peach recipes. Check some out here.


And a few more recipes:
Cornbread Blueberry Bread Pudding with Peach Sauce
Blueberry Nut Bread
Blackberry, Basil, Blueberry Cobbler
Corn and Green Chile Chowder


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tacos or Nachos Al Pastor with Pineapple Salsa


I don't even know where to start. Over the last few weeks of my untimely disappearance, I wish I could tell you  I was kidnapped by a bunch of extremely handsome hunks, (much like my favorite in the Ralph Lauren ad) and taken to a desert island with white sand beaches where I was waited on hand and foot, given countless back and foot massages, and entertained quite lavishly. Alas, that was not the case. Instead I have been a caterer, mother, hostess, wife, driver,baker, dishwasher, cook, grocery shopper, photographer, gift buyer, gardener, flower arranger, maid and poop picker upper. No; not in any particular order. My mind  is too discombobulated to try that!

In the last several weeks that no one has missed me (SOBS!!!!), my faithful daughter flew home to help me give a bridal shower for her best friend. This best friend is the one that lived across the street, in the cute yellow house, that was almost Zoe's second home. Many good memories were created in the last 25 years between our two families, so it was with pleasure that we were able to honor Whitney, as the guest of honor.


This quickly went from a California Dreamin' shower to became a Mexican themed shower, but the wedding is being held in Costa Rica in January, which is close to Mexico and California, right? (Needless to say I am now on the Costa Rican beach diet that began with me throwing out all unhealthy food from my refrigerator. But back to the shower.) Thanks to Pinterest and such, Zoe had a particular way that she wanted this shower to be.

 Let me just say this. It was a fun shower, but I was the one in the kitchen. I was the caterer and only a hostess for a few moments, until I was also told to take photos. They had margaritas. I had a hot pad. I wanted a taco BAR. She wanted passed taco baskets already made up;"like in a restaurant, Mom." And she wanted two types of tacos which meant making 24 individual tacos and 12 Corn in a Cups. She wanted chips in little baskets with individual cups of guacamole. And Queso! AND this was all for happy hour. Well. They were happy. Especially when it got to be pinata time and they found it was filled with more cute little bottles of alcohol, lace panties and socks, and even candy!


I haven't even mentioned dessert. Nor have I told you that to achieve this feat of showerdom, we needed to find little cardboard tubs to hold the chips in. This was the hardest feat of all until I ran into my blogger friend Karen, who said just go to 5 Guys and get the peanut baskets that are by the front door. Thanks 5 Guys and thanks Karen. We only spent 2 days looking at numerous places to figure that out. And I didn't even tell you about special ordering the tiny corn and flour tortillas to make the tiny tacos, because the tortillas in the grocery store were too big. Well; the princess thought so. So Raquelitas, located downtown with no name on the  door, was willing to provide. Yes; I did have to buy 5 dozen tortillas each. I think I need to open a retail establishment that specializes in tiny tortillas like they serve in restaurants. I would sell them in cardboard tubs.

Behold the menu. (My mind is still fuzzy, but I think this was it.)


 I wish I had photos of the tacos in their cute little baskets with the shot glass of corn in the cup. I wish I had a photo of me sipping a margarita. I wish I had a photo of me watching Whitney open her presents. (It was a bar shower.) But I did get photos of the beautiful girls. The happy, young girls. The possibly tipsy girls...


And before you know it Zoe headed back to Philly. We were both sufficiently exhausted and Zoe had plenty of time to fall in love with Geordie.


I must say we made a pretty good team, but next time I hope she reminds me to hire someone to help out. What was I thinking? In my downtime I'm getting ready for the annual RV arrival  and trying to find the true meaning of summer. The folly is coming along and Geordie is growing. My last post was number 300 and I never ever thought I would be doing anything for this long. Well. I guess This is How I Cook!

The winners of the Whole Foods giveaway are: VP 22 and from June it is Karen Harris! I'll be in touch! Another one will be coming pronto!



Tacos or Nachos Al Pastor with Pineapple Salsa
Adapted from: Whitney Bond (Hers is a slow cooker recipe)
Serves: About 25 tacos or more
Time To make: About 20 minutes to prepare/About 4 hours to cook
Ingredients:
5.5 lbs of boneless pork tenderloin
3 t kosher salt
2 t oregano
3 t cumin
2 t coarsely ground black pepper
6 t chili powder or I used 3 t ancho chile powder and 3 t chipotle chile powder
1 7 oz can chipotles in adobo
4 c of fresh pineapple, diced
1 c chopped red onion
8 cloves of garlic
4 T fresh lime juice
2 T apple cider vinegar
1-2 12 oz bottles of Mexican beer

Directions:
Combine salt, oregano, cumin, pepper and chili powders in a small bowl. Rub the mixture into the tenderloins and place in a Dutch oven.

In a food processor place 1 can of chipotles, diced pineapple, red onion, garlic, lime juice and vinegar. Process until smooth. Pour this mixture over tenderloin. Now pour the beer over the top. As long as the tenderloin is covered, you have enough beer. Drink the other one.

Over medium heat, bring mixture to a low boil. Turn temperature down to low and simmer for about 4 hours or until pork can be easily shredded. I let it cool in its juices and then use two forks to shred it. For tacos and nachos you want the mixture dry, so I drain it very well. For other purposes you may want to save some of the liquid and reheat it together.

Pineapple Salsa
Makes enough for about 12 tacos and 1 batch of nachos.
Time to make: About 15 minutes
Ingredients:
1/2 of a pineapple, chopped into fairly small pieces
1/2 of a small red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1 pinch of salt or to taste
1 tomato chopped
Directions:
Mix together and put a spoonful on each taco or sprinkle over nachos.

Chipotle Drizzle Sauce (Perfect for tacos and nachos and even sandwiches!)
Time to Make: About 5 minutes
Ingredients:
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/3 c sour cream or Greek yogurt
Juice of 1/2 of lime
1/2-1 t of chipotle or ancho chile powder
Directions:
I mix this up in a bowl and then put it in a squeeze jar. If you need it thinner add more lime juice or some milk or heavy cream to thin it. Feel free to drizzle to your heart's content!

To assemble tacos:
Take one  corn or flour tortilla and top with a few spoonfuls of drained pork. Top with some shredded cabbage and then some salsa and cheese if you like. Drizzle some sauce on top. Keep the portions dainty as it is much easier to eat tacos this way!

For nachos:
I kept this simple. Arrange 1 bag of tortilla chips in a cast iron pan. I stand them up like rose petals and then place the meat and  about 2 c of jalapeno jack cheese between the "petals" and on top. Bake at 425 until cheese is melted and chips are crisp. Top with pineapple salsa, extra chopped cilantro and drizzle some sauce. I use a spatula to get these out of the skillet and serve them on plates with forks!

Other great food to try!
Pineapple Chipotle Guacamole
Elote Corn
Red Chile and a Breakfast Sandwich
Migas Scrambled Eggs
Italian Nachos
Coconut Rum Res Leches Cake